© 1998 Richard Lewis
Well, this king, his name was Hrothgar and he had a lot of booty,
so he spent it on a meadhall where his warriors could party.
After stomping Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and other foreign vanguards,
he said "Let's have a party, boys, and don't forget your tankards."
He invited lots of people who could drink nonstop for hours,
who sang songs and told old stories till their voices hit the showers
and who didn't know that out there in the dark beneath a pool
lived a giant, name of Grendel, who was really rather cruel.
Well, this Grendel had big teeth and ears and claws -he wasn't pretty
And he got his daily protein scarfing arms and legs and feet, he
heard the party in the meadhall, heard them sing and talk and shout.
So after checking all his cupboards, he decided he'd eat out.
By the time he reached the meadhall, everybody was asleep,
lying in a drunken stupor, some alone, some in a heap.
Like a Danish smorgasboard, he gobbled one and then another,
Until he was full himself, then he took several home for mother.
Grendel, Grendel, filled his tummy,
Grendel, Grendel, toes taste yummy,
Grendel, Grendel, he's too gnarly,
Went to bed his stomach full of Sigmund, Max and Charlie.
Well, when Hrothgar went to get his breakfast in the morning early,
he discovered what was left of his new hall; it made him surly.
So he sent out for a hero who could handle hungry giants
and who was between heroic deeds and had no other clients.
The word it came to Beowulf and he was unemployed.
He said, "I'll take the job; it sure beats hangin' with the boys."
Then he hired up a dozen of the toughest bruisers drinking,
And they got a boat and sailed away to Denmark without sinking.
Well, when Hrothgar learned that Beowulf had come about the job,
he said, "I know this kid, he's got a reputation like the mob.
You can bet your byrnie Beowulf will kick this creature's hynie
like he's done to bears and ogres that he's fought across the brinie."
He gave Beowulf some mead and said to chill out with his men.
Then he sent out invitations and got answers back again.
And he threw another party like the one he gave before,
after cleaning up the mess from off the ceiling, walls, and floor.
Grendel, Grendel, here comes trouble.
Grendel, Grendel, burst your bubble.
Grendel, Grendel's days are numbered.
Beowulf's in town and for a monster that's a bummer.
It was quite a bash, believe me; there were sods from wall to wall,
quaffing barrels of warm mead that they threw up outside the hall,
Until darkness came and things began to seem a little fateful,
Hrothgar, in a speech before he split, told Beowulf he was grateful
for him waiting up for Grendel and he hoped that he'd survive,
'cause he'd give him lots of gold--providing he was still alive.
And he praised him and said Beowulf would be a hero's benchmark.
Then he said he had a meeting at the other end of Denmark.
Soon, the only people left were those who couldn't find the door
and who soon were fast asleep upon the meadhall's stoney floor,
except Beowulf, who, when he worked a case, went on the wagon
'cause the last time that he drank he had his bell rung by a dragon.
He was lying there when threw the wall the creature did attack,
but as soon as Grendel grabbed him with his claws, he grabbed him back.
"What the hey," the monster muttered, and he tried to give the slip,
but he couldn't get away until he heard a giant rip!
And his arm and shoulder separated, never more to meet.
"What a hassle," said the giant, "but at least I've got both feet."
It was awful, it was bloody, it was terminal for certain,
and he barely made it to his cave before the final curtain.
Well, the whole thing was heroic, sure as Grendel was a brute,
and the Danes chipped in and filled our hero's boat with lots of loot.
Then he sailed away to Yatland, now a hero told in song,
but that's all that I can tell you, 'cause I didn't go along.
Grendel, Grendel, lost his arm.
Grendel, Grendel, bought the farm.
Grendel, Grendel's final act's done.
If you want all the details, you'll have to learn some Anglo-Saxon.
This was inspired by Adam McNaughton's Oor Hamlet, and he gave Dick permission to use his concept. He used the fiddle tune Mason's Apron. Dick Lewis, who teaches a college class on Beowulf, wrote this summary of the plot of that old English epic. He gave us permission to sing it live, but asks that it not be recorded or published without his consent. He can be reached at
© 2007 Greg McKenzie
Greg McKenzie brought this song to Camp Harmony this year and sang it in the concert. It is a zipper song, and he uses these additional lines: Bless the hands that sewed these clothes . . . built this guitar . . . wrote this song . . . built this hall . . . . He invites to add our own blessings.Click here for a printable copy of this song.
© 2006 Jinx Davis
1. All across this big old land
We'll join together, hand in hand
The time has come for us to stand
For peace and justice in this land, (2X)
Brothers, sisters, we'll unite
The time is now, the time is right
From war and killing turn away
And we will live a better way, yes (2X)
Oh this I know, it's time for harmony to grow
And fear and hatred they must go,
It's time for love now, this I know,
It's time for peace now, this I know
2. Red and yellow, black, white, brown,
All the people, whole world 'round
We will plant seeds, row by row
Seeds of peace, now watch them grow (2X)
The politicians, whole world 'round
Spread greed, fear, hatred on the ground
It's time for those bad boys to know
That they will reap just what they sow, (2X)
We'll send a message 'cross the sea
We'll join all people, then we'll see
That what is right for you, for me
Is justice, peace and harmony (2X)
Now Georgie Bush, he taps our phones
And hands out lies like ice cream cones,
It's time for Georgie Bush to know
George, you and all your lies must go, yes(2X)
With all the world we'll share our wealth,
Education, better health
And all the bounty we have known,
Then we can reap what we have sown, yes (2X)
The folknik song pages are lovingly produced by Barbara Millikan, Kay Eskenazi and John Kelly. Barbara Millikan produced the song pages or this issue.
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